Is Weight Loss Camp Right For Your Teenager?

Posted on: 8 February 2016

If you're a parent, the chances are good that you've heard the frightening statistics about childhood obesity – the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates that about 17% of kids between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight. That's about 12.5 million kids who are facing health consequences like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you're the parent of one of those children, the problem becomes even more personal and wrenching as you watch your child struggle not just with their weight and the attendant health consequences, but also with self-esteem issues and with judgement and harassment from others, including their peers. If you're looking for ways to help your overweight teenager with some of these issues, weight loss camps are one thing that you may be considering. Take a look at some information that can help you make a decision.

History of Weight Loss Camps

When you think about weight loss camps, chances are that the first thing that comes to your mind are the "fat camps" that you may have heard about as a child or seen portrayed on movies or TV shows. If that is what you think of, you may have a negative reaction to the thought of a weight loss camp.

Children's fat camps first appeared in the 1960s and 70s, and these early camps did use methods that would be thought of as less than healthy by today's standards. They used highly restrictive diet plans and calisthenics to promote fast weight loss, but it often didn't last. Many children gained any weight that they did lose back after leaving the camp. Plus, with a moniker like "fat camp", the experience probably didn't do much to alleviate any social difficulties children experienced because of their weight.

Modern Weight Loss Camps

Today, weight loss camps are less common, and the methods that they use to help kids reach a healthy weight are very different. While the old-style camps were more focused on making overweight children look more conventionally attractive, today's weight loss camps focus on helping campers feel healthier and more fit.

A good weight loss camp will also stay away from extreme diets and exercise regimens. Instead, your child will work with dieticians, nutritionists, and trainers to come up with a nutrition and fitness plan that meets their needs and that is intended to last beyond the summer camp experience. Ideally, your teenager's time at a weight loss camp should help them make a healthy lifestyle change that results in not just weight loss but lasting good health.

Of course, you could have your child work with nutritionists and trainers from home. The added benefit of a weight loss camp is that your child will have the support of people who are facing the same sort of issues that they're facing. They'll also develop their new healthier habits in a structured and controlled environment, making it easier to stick to the plan until it becomes a habit. And they'll have fun participating in camp activities like sports and wilderness activities.

Paying For Weight Loss Camp

Even if weight loss camp sounds like a good fit for your teen, you may be wondering if it's something that you could ever afford. It's true that weight loss camps are not cheap – a ballpark cost is between $800 and $1000 dollars a week. The more amenities and services the camp offers, the more it's likely to cost.

However, don't decide that weight loss camp is out of your reach before you do some research. Your health insurance company may pick up some or all of the cost, especially if your teen's weight is seriously compromising their health. Many camps also offer financing options, allowing you to pay over time. There are even scholarship programs for weight loss and fitness camps.

When deciding whether weight loss camp is right for your teen, make sure to involve your teen in the decision making process. Research camps and take tours of camps in your area together. No matter what you ultimately decide about camp, your teen will have an easier time taking control of their weight and health if they're part of the discussion about how to manage their weight and health.